What to Expect from Your Retail Distributor
By Agile SCS
August 11, 2020 | Retail Distribution

Finding a distributor for your ecommerce business can feel like a daunting task. If you’re just starting your business or you’ve decided it’s time to expand and take your business to the next level, you’ve already got a million things to think about. But, you really need to set time aside and think about finding the right distributor for your business.

Before you sign on with a distributor, here are some things you should expect from them that will ensure a partnership that will be mutually beneficial, low stress, and profitable for you both into the foreseeable future.



They communicate

warehouse crew discussing plans

As in life, with a distributor, you’re going to expect good communication. This is the key to a good relationship. You want to know that they’re going to keep you up to date on the latest products, product trends, or any potential complications along the supply chain.

Staying in touch avoids potential issues that could cause you stress as well as wasted time and energy.

If, before you sign on with a distributor, they are difficult to get a hold of, if they never pick up their phone, then you can probably surmise that this is how they run their business. You need a distributor that answers your calls. Silent distributors are not the kind you want to partner with.



An Agile Partner

The market is a living beast. It’s going to change and that means your product needs are going to change as well. So you should expect that your distributor can keep up and handle those changes.

If they’re good, they can easily change with you. This covers everything from order size to product offerings and everything in between. You should expect flexibility from your distributor and they should adapt quickly to your needs.

If they are unable to adapt, you may end up with an overabundance of products or, which is worse, empty shelves and irate customers. A distributor that is incapable of adapting can cause breaks in your customer relationships. You want to avoid that at all costs.



A history of reliability 

When you seek a distributor, do some research. Find out how the distributor has worked with other retailers in the area. Are they new to the business or have they been around for some time and weathered some storms? Get a good view of their reliability and how well they are trusted and perceived among other businesses.

They should be good to their word. If they say they will get the job done and layout clear hows and whys, then they should stick to that. The last thing you need is a distributor that suddenly changes the rules or drops the ball in the middle of a job. You should expect them to be a reliable force in your partnership.




woman counting bills

This is an important point and one that’s probably at the forefront of your mind when thinking about a distributor. You certainly want a reasonable price however, you want to stay away from the cheapest of the cheap.

If a distributor is cutting costs on their pricing, they may be skimping in other areas as well. They could be cutting corners in transportation, reliability, or even salaries. If they are cutting salaries then they are not getting top-quality workers to handle your products.

Have an optimal price-point in mind when you sit down to negotiate. Factor that in with other qualities that you should expect from your distributor and then make your decision. If you decide to go ultra-cheap, you may end up getting just what you’re paying for. Remember a distributor is a business partner and a strong one can make a good business a great business.




Find out what matters to your distributor when they take on new products. All distributors are not alike. Some may specialize and that specialization might not include products of your type. These specializations may include product range, consumer demographics, or even geographic area. Don’t try to sell your baby care product through a distributor that specializes in food and beverage distributions.

You should expect that your distributor understands and has experience with your type of products and can show proven success handling it in the market.



They know your target market

Knowing your target market before you approach a distributor is going to give you a better chance of succeeding. You should expect your distributor is going to be selling to your exact target market. Find out if they have been successful selling to that market in the past. Knowing this is going to ensure you get to market as quickly as possible.

You might want to consider finding out who distributes your competitor’s products, the ones that are selling a boatload of products. Finding a distributor that represents similar and successful products means they already have experience and expertise and they know how to succeed.

You should expect knowledge and experience. This ensures that they will be able to get your products to market fast. So, take your time and choose wisely when it comes to partnering with a distributor.



Find the right retail distribution company


If your ecommerce business is suddenly growing, you’re going to want help with distribution, that’s a good thing. When it’s time to take your business out of the garage, it’s time to give some responsibility to a retail distribution company that knows what they're doing. One that can get you not only on the retail shelves but into the big box stores as well. You should expect them to have experience with transportation and global logistics as well. 

Remember, partnering with a distributor is a huge step forward for your business, but, you need to know what you can expect from that partnership. If you know your side and you’ve done all your work, then finding a distributor that gets you and your business and is going to provide what you expect from a good distributor is going to be easier. Take your time, do your homework, pick the right distributor and you’ll soon see your business rise and thrive.